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Sesame Allergies on the Rise in U.S.

Sesame Seed Allergy Now Among Most Common Food Allergies
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The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Asthma and Immunology.

Their most common symptom was hives, in 41% of patients, followed by eczema in 29%. Twenty-three percent developed a dangerous swelling of the face and of the throat that blocks airways, referred to as angioedema. Stomach upset and wheezing or other breathing problems were also common, affecting 23% and 12% of patients, respectively.

All but one patient had a strong family history of allergies. And 70% of the patients were also allergic to tree nuts, while 65% were allergic to peanuts.

In a separate study, Boston researchers found that kids who have had allergic reactions to tree nuts are nearly three times more likely to have allergic reactions to sesame seeds. The relationship between peanut and sesame allergies was less clear, says researcher Lisa Stutius, MD, of Children’s Hospital Boston.

The findings suggest that tree nut-allergic children with unexplained hives, eczema, or other allergy symptoms might want to visit their allergist to determine if they’re allergic to sesame as well, the doctors say.

But a third study showed that standard skin and blood testing for food allergies “doesn’t predict whether a child has true sesame allergy,” says Permaul Perdita, MD, also of Children’s Hospital Boston.

“The only way to really tell is to give them sesame seeds and see if they have a reaction,” she says.

Such testing needs to be performed under medical supervision because there is a chance that the patient could have a potentially life-threatening anaphylactic reaction, Perdita tells WebMD. “What we really need is a better blood or skin test.”

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